Acme Theatre Company
Share page
Organization Details


The Production Team is comprised of 11 student leaders who are elected annually by their peers to assume responsibility for stage management, sound, set, props, lights, publicity, web design, costumes, and front-of-house. This team leads the company in producing three main-stage productions each year, and additional special presentations or fundraisers. During the production process, these leaders meet weekly with the adult director to develop a budget, plan and design all technical aspects of the production, and create and implement a publicity plan. Since the onset of Covid-19 restrictions in the middle of March 2020, all programming has moved online. The overall structure of the productions, however, has remained the same.

Complexity and effort can vary greatly depending on the play chosen for production and the venue used. Significant technical accomplishments in recent years include coordinating 60 students to rehearse 2 concurrent productions of Romeo & Juliet, integrating projection and live video technology into a production, and producing a new play written by an Acme alumnus that had two possible storyline paths, which the tech teams and actors had to adapt for.

Although knowledgeable adults are consulted on safety issues or to learn new technical skills, all projects are undertaken by students. In addition, one of the essential tasks of the Production Team is to maintain skills and knowledge within the company. To this end, each role has an apprentice, and the Production Team is responsible for training these apprentices. This ownership of the process results in Acme's unique brand of leadership. While students who choose to focus their efforts in acting receive intense coaching, Acme's focus on technical training and youth leadership is unique. All company members, actors and non-actors alike, participate in the technical process by participating in at least two technical crews.
Program Successes
The ultimate successes of this program are the personal growth and leadership skills of each individual participant, and the positive impacts of a tight-knit peer community -- forged through creative collaboration. Student leadership successes come from both planned and unplanned events.
- In a recent planned event, after working with a playwright to develop a series of short plays based on Grimm's fairy tales, the production team worked with a local business to present a dinner fundraiser based around the plays, creating additional acting and technical learning opportunities while generating significant revenue.
- In a recent unplanned event, two lead actors became unable to continue performing part way through a production. The production team implemented a plan for an alternative presentation of the play with substitute cast members that still maintained the artistic and emotional impact of the play.
- In 2017, Acme youth produced a play focused on trans youth experiences and partnered with community groups to offer a series of post-show discussions that highlighted resources for trans community members, the advocacy efforts of local trans youth, and provided education on trans and gender identity issues for the community at large.
- In 2020, Acme youth presented a play that dealt with a school shooting and gun violence. Students met with local advocacy groups who are working to end gun violence and facilitated a series of post-show discussions to help audience members become more involved with this effort.
- Since 2008, the Artistic Director has trained alumni to work as production directors/adult mentors. This has increased long-term sustainability, enriched artistic training, provided exposure to a greater diversity of directing/artistic styles, and strengthened appreciation for and knowledge of Acme Theatre's 40 years of history.
Each summer, the student Education Coordinator organizes the company to produce a children's drama camp involving 40 high school students teaching up to 75 K-8 students. Although, for safety reasons, the camps are overseen by adults, company members are responsible for all direct interaction with participants, including teaching, directing, classroom management, and parent communication. The program culminates in three performances - an original puppet show written and performed by K-1 puppeteers, three short plays directed and produced by high school students, featuring actors from grades 2-5, and three additional plays performed and produced by students grades 6-8, under the direction and mentorship of high school students.
Program Successes
This program has three central goals:
- To provide the K-8 students with actor training and a positive introduction to theatrical performance, while building skills of potential future company members.
- To train company members as effective managers, leaders, mentors, and directors.
- To function as a company fundraiser.

In recent years, we have had several successes, many due to the direct input and energy of the youth leaders. For example, when the long time home of the program became unavailable due to renovation work, the leadership successfully moved the entire program to a new location where the program continues to thrive. Last year, following a period of declining participation, the youth leadership conducted an evaluation of the program, identified items that might make the program less attractive to parents, and created a plan to update and improve the program.

The program changes were implemented successfully this year, and the youth leadership identified further changes to consider for next year.
Each year, the company elects 11 students to manage Acme's day-to-day operations. This group is called the Acme Council of Executives (ACE). Each ACE member has a specific responsibility (e.g. fundraising, publicity, Summer Education Program Coordinator). Before taking leadership, each student serves a six-month apprenticeship with the previous position holder. ACE responsibilities include developing an annual budget for board approval, organizing peers to accomplish company events (e.g. parent orientations, theatrical productions, fundraisers, education programs, etc.), holding an annual ACE retreat and elections, and addressing company issues that arise (see below under successes). These activities are performed with mentorship by the Artistic Director on both an individual and group level.
Program Successes
Success is defined by the growth ACE members experience on a daily/weekly basis. While challenging and intense, this program results in three annual theatrical productions, a summer education program and numerous smaller events all under direct youth leadership. ACE members regularly devote 20-25 hours per week to their leadership duties and often identify this program as the most meaningful learning experience of their high school years.

Recent specific ACE successes include:
- Holding a retreat with the adult leadership board to discuss the future of the company and explore options for finding a permanent physical home.
- With the Artistic Director, reinstated weekly Acme gatherings as an opportunity for company members to interact outside the intense environment of a production process, create an opportunity for interested teens to learn more about Acme, hold play readings to help identify scripts for future productions, and improve company connectivity in the periods between productions.
- In 2017, the youth leadership recognized a need to increase the appeal of participation in the company for those of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. A series of company conversations ensued, which led to a half-day workshop led by an outside expert. As a result, an action plan was developed for ongoing internal education and structural changes, as well as new programming and expanded community outreach. A task force of youth leaders was formed that meets regularly to move these efforts forward.